Botswana is a curious case when contrasted with the rest of Southern Africa. While other countries were plagued by corruption and turmoil Botswana has achieved stable growth economically, and ensured democratic freedom for it’s people. Since independence in 1966 it has consistently been the least corrupt country in Africa. It is also the oldest continues democracy on the continent. This prosperity has been achieved because of various measures taken by the government. The first being a relatively free market with robust property rights. Whereas the majority of countries in southern Africa after colonialism had communist regimes, Botswana has maintained a super majority of the conservative party in it’s congress since 1966.
This conservative government strongly embraces free markets and have reaped the benefits. It has one of the highest GDP per capita in Africa. Its country has the 4th largest gross national income in Africa and has the highest human development index in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Botswana also made other strategic decisions that other countries did not. Many countries abandon the colonial common law system after decolonization whereas Botswana decided to keep its robust legal tradition. This has lead to all Botswanans regardless of race, class, or creed having very secure property rights. Countries like Zimbabwe seized lands of white farmers triggering a famine. Such issues and debates have never plagued Botswana leading to a steadily growing middle class and a significantly lower crime rate than neighboring countries.
Another interesting facet of the policy of Botswana was to integrate local traditions and tribes into the new Botswana. Botswana was a colonial construction thus its borders like many countries cuts through and divides local communities. Botswana allows for tribal courts to carry out tribal functions such as marriage and execute wills. This leads to strong communities in Botswana while still upholding the rights of all its citizens.Botswana is a Conservative case study and yet receives almost no attention. The leading party conservative party has never not held a super majority and every year maintained a conservative fiscal policy rooted in diamond and agricultural exports. The judiciary in Botswana allows for local communities to have a say and also upholds the constitution as the law of the land. And most importantly robust property rights have allowed all Botswana’s to contribute to its free market and steadily raise the standard of living.
Academia and media is sadly western focused and often neglects to look to Africa as a source of knowledge. This should change as Botswana could teach the West about what it takes to succeed in the long run as well as integrate indigenous communities into a larger legal tradition. Africa has endured the hardships of colonialism and thus Botswana’s triumphs are even more noteworthy.
Botswana is conservative and Botswana is thriving.
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